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Explore the latest trends, tips, and experiences in college life in this blog written by fellow students.

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  • Three students sit at a table in a college common room. They are gathered around a laptop computer and are looking at the screen with interest.

    5 Study Tips from Science Majors

    Melanie Perez, Ariana Santiago, Grace Oh, Maggie Parker, Taylor Perline

    We’ve asked science majors from universities all over the country to share their no-fail tips for studying success. From the first day to finals, use these tips to help you study smarter.

    1) Calendarize the syllabus

    The first thing one should do after registering for their class is look at the syllabus. I like using a spreadsheet like Google sheets or Excel to list out all the assignments and quizzes/exams. This lets me know far in advance the average number of assignments I have a week. Plus, I can put the exams in a calendar and track the amount of studying I have to do. - Melanie Perez, Florida International University

    Learn more about how to increase productivity and organization when you’re in college.

    2) Practice active recall

    On some random Tuesday during my first semester, I decided I wanted to use one of the whiteboards in the library to study. I’ve never looked back.

    Active recall on a whiteboard is my secret weapon when it comes to studying. Active recall is a study method in which you write as much as you can remember about a topic, then go back through your notes to fill in the gaps.

    Back when I used to study with my notes online, I would trick myself into thinking I knew the material just because I read it over multiple times. With the whiteboard, there’s no pretending I know the material. I write down everything I can remember, and then I go back to my notes to fill in what I can’t remember.

    After that first round of writing, I erase everything.

    I make sure to close my lecture notes and erase every single speck of writing on my whiteboard and write it all over again, trying to include what I forgot the first time. Since it’s not my computer or a notebook, I can’t scroll or turn back to my notes and cheat; either I remember it, or I don’t.

    I find that making mind maps with arrows and hand drawn pictures or diagrams is extremely helpful for putting concepts together, especially for biology. The space and flexibility (you can easily erase and move things around) a whiteboard provides is perfect for that.

    With this method, I can easily pinpoint my areas of weakness and cut down on study time since it only takes me around three rounds of active recall to remember and connect everything. Also, it’s way more eco-friendly than doing it on sheets of paper! - Ariana Santiago, Temple University

    Discover how to find your perfect study space on campus.

    3) Stay motivated

    The material in most science based classes is extremely dense and can be difficult to take in in one sitting. Something that helps me stay motivated is to take breaks.

    Studies have shown our brains can function and focus most efficiently for roughly 30 minutes to two hours. Therefore, in order to keep studying without draining my brain too much, I will study or work on an assignment for 45 minutes then take a five- to ten-minute break.

    My favorite thing to do is get outside for some fresh air and even take a quick walk to reset my focus before getting back to work. This helps me stay motivated and avoid passive learning. - Grace Oh, University of Oregon

    4) Do practice problems. Don’t memorize.

    Memorization doesn’t allow for a deep understanding of a topic, which is crucial in biology due to its complexity.

    Rather than just using flash cards to try and understand processes, which are often too intricate to easily summarize, you should try working through examples and practice problems.

    This type of studying will give you real experience with applying equations and concepts. It will also make you more confident going into an exam because you’ve gone beyond just memorizing facts. - Maggie Parker, Syracuse University

    5) Take care of yourself

    The most important thing to do is to take care of yourself.

    Studying all day long with no fun in between can lead to burnout. It can take a physical and mental toll on you.

    Your college years are an amazing time when you’re young and able to have fun. Go to the sports games, spend time at the gym, join a club, and hang out with your friends! I also love to reward myself with a sweet treat after exams. You are working hard! - Taylor Perline, Ohio State University

    For more study tips and tricks, check out the Insider Tips video located within the Freeman Biological Science 7e Mastering Biology course. View an example here.

  • Virtual lab environment with open procedures window guiding students to click on items to discover how it will be used.

    Pearson Interactive Labs: Connecting real life with online labs

    Mikayla Wallace

    Lab-based science courses have always intimidated me because, as a Business Management major, I have no lab experience. I was excited to try the Pearson Interactive Science Labs because their design allows you to work through online labs conveniently from anywhere at your own pace. After working through the virtual labs, I consider them an essential tool because they provide a meaningful science-based experience that includes a real-world scenario introduction, a step-by-step lab walkthrough, reflective analysis, and a wrap-up quiz. The interactive labs are easy to navigate, even without a science background, and are an excellent resource for applying the knowledge learned.

    Engaging Introduction:

    College can be overwhelming, which leads me to rush through assignments without understanding the meaning and importance of what I am learning. The Pearson Interactive Labs effectively explain the significant realistic scenario of the lab before you begin, which grabs your attention and encourages authentic participation. Background information for the case is also presented, and embedded questions ensure you fully understand the material and can move forward successfully to the lab. One feature I found beneficial was the multiple formats for the embedded questions, such as multiple choice, select all that are correct, and matching type questions.

    Straightforward Guided Lab Experience:

    After viewing the case scenario and relevant background information, the simulation allows you to familiarize yourself with the lab equipment location and tool names, which is extremely helpful for non-biology majors like me who may have never completed a college-level lab. Once you have walked through the tools necessary for the lab, you are given a set of self-paced step-by-step instructions to accomplish the lab goals. I feel the lab instructions are valuable because they are thorough yet easy enough to follow for any student including those with no prior lab experience.

    Impactful Application of Knowledge:

    When finished with the lab, you are guided through how to analyze the data and apply your knowledge to other related cases. Following the final analysis of the lab results, you are prompted to answer case-related questions in a quiz format. As a student, I appreciate opportunities to apply the knowledge I have learned because it creates a sense of accomplishment and cements the learned concepts into my memory for future use.

    The interactive lab structure offers a guide through the complete science process including formulating a hypothesis, conducting a lab, and analyzing lab results. Having all the information and virtual tools needed for a lab assignment accessible in one place is crucial, especially for non-science majors. Busy college students like myself seek convenience in school work, which is why the virtual interactive labs are a fantastic tool for anyone taking a science course, regardless of their science background.

    Busy college students like myself seek convenience in school work, which is why the virtual interactive labs are a fantastic tool for anyone taking a science course, regardless of their science background.

    Learn more about Pearson Interactive Labs today! 

  • looking out over city skyline from aircraft with control panel in view

    Life as a STEM Student

    Mary-Kate Wesley

    I am a junior at the University of Iowa currently majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Autonomous Systems and Robotics as well as minoring in Mathematics. Click the link below to watch my vlog about why I chose STEM, what I am passionate about, and things I do and am involved with as a STEM major in college!

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    Why I Switched My Major Five Times

    Patricia Macalalag

    Choosing a major is one of the most exciting things about college. Students finally have the freedom to study what they’re interested in, as opposed to following the fixed curriculum set in high school. Some people find their perfect major right away, while others like me were plagued with indecision. Personally, I am interested in learning almost anything and could see myself in a variety of careers. So I was torn between STEM and the Humanities.

    My track record goes like this – Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) to Political Science to Human Biology and Society back to Political Science to MIMG again and finally, Physiological Science.

    As you can see, I eventually figured out that I wanted to pursue an education in STEM. However, I struggled in the beginning and changed my mind a lot. Most college students change their majors only one to two times, or maybe even not at all. But, if you’re in the same situation I was in, don’t worry; some of us just take a little more time than others. 

    The most important thing to remember is that it is totally OK to switch your major and know that many students do. Realizing that you might not like something as much as you thought you did is normal. I attend UCLA and we have over 125 different majors. There are so many options out there–subjects that you haven’t even heard of or considered, but realized you liked after being exposed to them. And even if you don’t find something you like, many universities offer Interdisciplinary majors, which is basically a way to customize your own major. It’s not the end of the world if you end up disliking your initial major. 

    In my opinion, there are two major reasons why you might consider switching your major: 1) you’re drawn to other subjects or 2) your grades are suffering (or not as good as you believe they could be). If you relate to this or you have another reason for switching, don’t forget to consider how much time you have left to complete major requirements.

    If you’re a first year, you have plenty of time to explore other areas of studies. If you’re a third or fourth year, however, keep in mind that you’ll have to consider whether your credits from other classes could transfer or count. And when in doubt, talk to your counselors, they are always a resource! Stressing yourself out throughout the whole process will do no good. Take time to examine all your options and make the decision that’s right for you.


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    The STEM sensation

    Meghan Nguyen

    STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) may not appeal to everybody at first, but eventually a passion for this may find us in some form. From utilizing technology, to enrolling in mathematics classes, to performing lab experiments, STEM has a way of influencing us to do our best and make us crave more. But for me, it was a combination of them all. Choosing to be a STEM major was not an immediate decision; it was a process that I had to figure out at my own pace. STEM exposed a little portion of itself to me, and I wanted more—like an addiction that I could not contain.

    Stepping up to the plate

    The first two years of high school can be overwhelming with graduation requirements and miscellaneous work whose purpose may not be clear at the time. Over the course of those two years, all I knew was that I performed well in math, and I wanted to stay away from subjects that did not challenge my brain to think harder and “out of the box.” However, I never figured out or had a career plan for college. I simply did what was expected of me and completed school. Throughout those years, numbers and scientific truths seemed to “throw themselves” at me, and it somehow stuck. Did I know what this meant? No. Was I confused about why numerical and science-like concepts appeared easier than reading a simple story and analyzing it? Absolutely. I was curious. I had this small tiny spark that needed help igniting, and I desired a flame.

    Taking action to understand the math and science stigma

    I had this “thing” in me, and I needed help. I skewed away from taking easy-A classes and knew that courses like physics and calculus were the ones for me. There was just something about understanding the world, and the nature of objects and actions, and applying math to real-world scenarios that was so intriguing. At that moment, STEM was a stigma that the previous generation pushed the future generations to pursue, and to this day it is still wildly supported and important. Everything around was transforming for the better and I needed to be part of that chain-reaction. My teachers pushed me to do my best and impacted my decision on a career. They made learning enjoyable and less like an obligation. Long story short, I had this kindling flame, and near the end of my high school chapter, I ended up with this untamable wildfire spreading throughout my body with excitement.

    Energizing my education towards chemical engineering

    Picking a specific career is not easy, especially for me. My excessive drive to learn influenced me to go in all sorts of directions from dermatology to business, and economics to mathematics, to physics to engineering; unfortunately, there is no time to do them all. Yes, I excelled in the mathematics and sciences. But, how could I combine all of the preceding fields and have room for flexibility? After hours of research and curriculum comparisons, I ultimately selected chemical engineering. This area of engineering plays a role in all of the engineering disciplines and overlaps in production of pharmaceuticals, energy, and produce goods. It’s a diverse field with opportunity and potential to do great that I could not pass up.

    Making my mark

    Being a chemical engineering major gives me insight on how to think and a new perspective to view my surroundings. But I could not have done it without help from my mentors, friends, supporters, and outside sources. Nobody simply excels alone; this process is a team effort, and I am proud to be chosen as a Pearson Scholar of Higher Education. Through this scholarship Pearson provides access to their exceptional services and extra study materials that are used in my classes. The opportunity to be affiliated with Pearson and their mentorship program has shown me that I can be the best version of myself by fully utilizing what is around me to my benefit. Within chemical engineering, one of my goals is to mentor and influence the upcoming generation to pursue STEM-related majors. In addition, I intend to start a scholarship fund for those who are in financial need and want to have a career in the STEM field. Pearson is doing just that for me, and I hope to continue the legacy of “creating fulfilling careers and better lives” and initiating the STEM-sensational spark in others.


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    Finding the Keys to Achieve Math Proficiency

    Tulin Babbitt

    Math has always been my least favorite subject. I always had the most difficult time understanding the concepts. Algebra was rough, calculus was worse, and trigonometry felt like torture. In high school my inability to properly understand math felt like my defining weakness, especially when I compared myself to my numerous straight-A friends. When I was thinking of my future major, I only looked at concentrations that wouldn’t require math. But something happened when I got to college that would help me overcome my weakness so that I could achieve math proficiency.

    In college I met one of the greatest professors I ever had. For the first time in my life, I had a math teacher who taught me math – and I understood it! For the first time, I was able to earn good grades in the subject. Was it my perception? Was it the professor? What did he do differently? Honestly, I’m really not quite sure. However, one thing is certain – he changed how I felt about the subject and how I perceived my abilities. After taking that class, my self-confidence was boosted. I am insanely proud of how I overcame that weakness and turned it into a strength. Here are a few things I learned through this experience.

    Strive for improvement

    Don’t worry so much about what you’re bad at, because with more practice or in the right setting, you could get better. Don’t focus on your flaws or imperfections, but rather strive to make improvements on all aspects of your life.

    Teaching others helps you learn

    Offer to help other students who don’t understand the topic. You were once in their position, and it’s great practice for yourself as well! We learn better when we have to explain a concept to another person –  so it’s win win! Not to mention, working in your campus tutor lab is a great way to meet new people, or earn some extra cash.

    Thank your teacher

    If you get that professor who changes the entire subject for you, let them know! Every teacher wants to change lives, and compliments go a long way. Show them that you are a driven student, and that their explanations encouraged you to reach your highest potential. That is the greatest gift to give an educator.

    College is not only a time of education, but also personal growth. I was astonished at what I could accomplish in the math courses I took in the following semesters. One professor was able to open my eyes and allow me to realize that I was not “bad at math” but rather never had the right resources or knowledge to effectively solve equations. I am proud to say with hard work and dedication to the subject, I completed the course with an A. Something I would have never thought possible before taking this course. I encourage you to always keep your chin up and approach things with confidence. Rather than shying away from math classes, I now know I can pursue ANY major, regardless of the math requirements.

    Pearson Students, What your weakness? How are you going to conquer it? Share when you retweet my blog!